Five Benefits of Playing 3-on-3 Basketball
Twenty to thirty years ago, 3-on-3 basketball was extremely popular in the United States. I remember growing up and playing in multiple 3-on-3 basketball tournaments every year like Gus Macker and others, and they were always a ton of fun.
But then some time in the past 15 years or so, the popularity of 3-on-3 basketball began to decline, most likely due to the rise in popularity of AAU, which is the standard 5-on-5 basketball.
USA Basketball has been pushing 3-on-3 in part because in 2020 it’s going to be an official sport at the Olympics in Tokyo.
The Jr. NBA has even started youth 3-on-3 basketball leagues around the country that culminate with a national championship.
This year there will be Jr. NBA 3-on-3 leagues in Atlanta (GA), Walnut Creek (CA), New York, Salt Lake City (UT), Aurora (IL), Westfield (IN), Vancouver (WA), Oklahoma City (OK), Whippany (NJ), and we are hosting the 3-on-3 basketball league in Charlotte, NC!
Our Charlotte Jr. NBA 3-on-3 League will be held on Friday evenings from January 5th to February 9th at Carolina Courts Indian Trail and is for boys and girls from U10 to U13. You can find more information here!
Anyway, with 3-on-3 making a comeback in youth basketball, I thought it’d be a good idea to write a blog about some of the benefits of 3-on-3 basketball for young players.
It played a huge role in my development as a basketball player from youth to the pros, so I wanted to express the importance of 3-on-3 in this post.
Best 3-on-3 Basketball Benfits for Young Players
#1 Players Have the Ball More
Put simply, there are 2 fewer players on a 3-on-3 basketball team than a 5-on-5 team (obviously), so players have the ball in their hands more often.
The math for the amount of time in 5-on-5 that a player actually has the ball in their hands is pretty staggering.
For simplicity sake, let’s say that the game is 40 minutes and a player plays the entire game. Half of that game is spent on defense and the other 20 minutes is spent on offense. Plus there are 4 other teammates, so 20 minutes divided by 5 players is 4 minutes each. So in a 40-minute game, a player only has the ball in his or her hands for 4 minutes total.
So just due to the total number of players, a player will have the ball in their hands for more time in 3-on-3 than 5-on-5, and this is clearly a great thing for development.
#2 Fast Paced
3-on-3 is a surprisingly fast-paced game because it is played in the half-court and players simply have to take the ball out of the net and take it back over the 3 point line before trying to score.
The fast pace of the game makes it a lot of fun as compared to some of the 5-on-5 games that can become boring and stagnant with a slow tempo or teams sitting in zone defenses or whatever.
#3 More Space
Again, with only 6 players total on the court as compared to 10 in 5-on-5, there is more space to operate on the court.
More space allows young players to do more, and possibly more importantly, try some more things that as they improve they can then take to the 5-on-5 game. And like with #2, having more space to play makes the game often times more fun!
#4 Learn Basic Basketball Movements
3-on-3 basketball is a great teaching tool for basic 5-on-5 movements and skills. Often times in 5-on-5, the main offensive operation is performed by only 3 players. For instance, a pick and roll with the 3 players on the ball/strong side or a pass and screen away are some of the most common movements in basketball, so 3-on-3 works to help players perfect them.
#5 Becoming Olympic Sport
Last but not least, one of the benefits of 3-on-3 basketball is that it’s becoming an Olympic sport, as I said, in 2020. The reason this is important is it gives kids an opportunity to watch some really high level 3-on-3 games and players and potentially give them something to aspire to!
These are not the only benefits to 3-on-3 basketball, but these 5 are some of the main ones, especially for young kids. I would encourage parents to get their kids into 3-on-3 leagues or tournaments and young players to play as much 3-on-3 as possible at the park, local gym, or where ever.
I promise that 3-on-3 will go a long way towards helping your game!